It was 150 years ago that Francis Thomas McDougall landed in Kuching and since then Christianity has spread to practically all parts of Sarawak and Brunei. McDougall indeed planted the seeds and others helped dispersed them, nurtured them and thereby ensured that they grew to maturity.
The story of how Christianity spread from Kuching to the various places in our Diocese is a testimony of the power of Divine grace working through mortal men; men who were obedient to His calling and faithful to His service. This write-up is to acquaint us with the general directions of the early spread of the Gospel from Kuching, and some of the personalities used mightily by God in the process. Not all names will be mentioned, and even those mentioned will not be given adequate coverage.
Often in relating our history we tend to give undue emphasis to the work of bishops and priests, most of whom were expatriates. No doubt they played pivotal roles in providing the leadership and direction of mission works, but without the assistance of ‘faithful old catechists’ and the lay Christians, it is doubtful that the ‘tuans’ could communicate the Gospel so effectively. The porters carrying the baggages of the ‘tuans’ in their traveling helped disseminate the new found faith to their fellow men. Others excited by the new status after having embraced the religion of the ‘tuan’, eagerly shared it with their folks in their kampongs or longhouses. Like in the Acts of the Apostles, Christianity in Sarawak spread as much through formal church outreach, as it was through ordinary laymen fired by the excitement of the new found faith.
The Geographical Spread
This write-up will try to cover the amin geographical spread of the Gospel from Kuching and in the process to indicate how parishes had their beginnings. From Kuching the Christian faith spread in 5 general directions:
1. To Iban areas of Second Division beginning with Banting;
2. To Lundu;
3. To the out-skirts of Kuching beginning with Merdang;
4. To Bidayuh areas beginning with Kuap;
5. To areas of Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Limbang and the nation of Brunei.
A chapter will be given to the work in Kuching itself especially among the Chinese.
WORSHIP AT THE OLD ST. THOMAS’ CATHEDRAL